Mercedes-Benz has taken the wraps off its biggest, most luxurious GLA to date, ensuring the entry-level model in the brand’s successful family of SUV models rounds off its current compact-car generation in style. With the new GLA, the compact car family from Mercedes-Benz now consists of eight models globally that covers all bases: three wheelbase lengths, front and all-wheel drive, as well as petrol and diesel models. Since the GLA made its debut in 2014, around a million units of this compact SUV have been sold across the world.
“The launch of the new GLA marks the culmination of a complete renewal of our family of compact cars,” says Johannes Fritz, Co-CEO Mercedes-Benz South Africa and Executive Director Mercedes-Benz Cars South Africa. “The high demand for our SUVs shows that we can offer the right model for all of our customers here. These include two off-road models, the GLB and GLA, which complement each other perfectly: the GLB is the most functional and most spacious representative of our compact class family, while the new GLA is positioned as its sporty brother and as a lifestyle-oriented SUV.”
The new GLA stands more than 10cm taller than its predecessor, at 1611 millimetres. Although 1.5cm shorter than its predecessor on the outside, the new GLA offers a more spacious interior, offering more legroom in the rear and the boot space. The new GLA is also safer than ever, courtesy of its driving assistance systems with cooperative driver support.
With powerful and efficient four-cylinder engines, the latest driving assistance systems with cooperative driver support and the MBUX infotainment system with intuitive operation, the new model has all the strengths of the current generation of compacts from Mercedes-Benz.
South African customers will be able to choose from the GLA 200 and the GLA 200d at launch. The GLA 200’s 1332cc engine puts out 120kW and 250Nm of torque, with combined fuel consumption of 6.0-5.7 1/100 km. The GLA 200d’s 1950cc diesel engine generates 110kW and 320Nm of torque, with a combined fuel consumption of 5.2-4.9 l/100 km. The engines were completely modernised for the new edition of the compact model series, with significantly increased performance and improved efficiency and emissions.
“The new GLA combines the best from the two highest-volume segments, the compact cars and the SUVs. The SUVs are a major structural pillar in the Mercedes-Benz product portfolio and now represent the highest-volume segment for Mercedes-Benz. To date, more than six and a half million customers around the world have opted for a Mercedes-Benz SUV,” says Selvin Govender, Marketing Director for Mercedes-Benz Cars South Africa.
Self-assured and dynamic exterior design
The GLA features powerful overall proportions, with short overhangs front and rear. Typical of the GLA are the powerful shoulders of the bodywork and the coupé-like lines of the side windows, giving the car its dynamically elegant flair. The doors reach over the sills, thereby improving ease of access, keeping the door frames (and the occupants’ trousers) free of dirt, and improving impact protection in the event of a side collision. All-round protective cladding adds structure to the overall proportions and emphasises the vehicle’s off-road character, as does the simulated underride guard at the front and rear.
The rear lights are in two parts, with the reflectors positioned separately in the bumper. The makes it possible to open the load compartment wider, making loading easier and the rear end appear wider. As with the other Mercedes-Benz SUV models, the radiator grille features distinctive openings, with a single louvre and a central star.
Contemporary and high-quality interior
The instrument panel on the driver’s side is dominated by a free-standing display unit, which is available with two 7-inch displays (17.78 cm), a 7- and 10.25-inch display (26 cm) and, in the Widescreen version, with two 10.25-inch displays. On the passenger side, the cut-out area is finished with a trim element. The five round ventilation outlets feature a high-quality turbine look, and the door centre panel flows seamlessly over into the armrest.
Included as standard is the intuitively operated MBUX infotainment system (MercedesBenz User Experience). The system can be individually configured, and features a powerful computer, brilliant screens and graphics, customisable presentation, fullcolour head-up display, optional navigation with augmented reality, learning software, and voice control activated with the prompt ‘Hey Mercedes’.
Bigger interior, more functionality
The front seating positions are higher and more upright than before, and thus more typical of an SUV: both the driver and front passenger sit 140 mm higher than in the AClass and 50 mm higher than in the B-Class. All-round visibility has also been improved. The rear seats can be optionally adjusted by 14 centimetres and the rear seat backrest set to a steeper rake, making room for such items as bulky boxes. There is still plenty of room for one or two people in the rear since these backrest variants come with a 40:60 split. The rear seat back rest can be can be split 40:20:40, with each section folding down individually.
The height-adjustable load floor, which comes as standard, offers considerable variability. When the rear seat backrests are folded down and the load floor is in the upper position, an almost flat loading area extending to the front seats can be created. For very bulky objects, the load floor can be put in the lower position, the cross member behind the rear seats can be removed and the rear seats with optional fore/aft adjustment can be moved forward.
Keeping an eye on the surrounding traffic
Driving assistance systems have also been enhanced in the new GLA and if you opt for the optional Driving Assistance Package, features include turning manoeuvre function, emergency corridor function, exit warning, pedestrian warning, Active Distance Assist Distronic, Active Steer Assist, Active Speed Limit Assist, route-based speed adjustment, evasive steering assist, active lane-keeping assist, active blind-spot assist, active brake assist, traffic sign assist and pre-safe plus which detects a potential rear impact.
Blind Spot Assist warns of vehicles, including bicycles, in the danger area – even when the vehicle is stationary. Traffic Sign Assist recognises posted speed limits and noovertaking signs, and when selected, gives a signal when the speed limit is exceeded. No-entry restrictions are also recognised.
New car wash function
The GLA is the first model in its class to feature a car wash function: with just one command, the exterior mirrors are folded in and the side windows and sliding roof closed. The climate control switches to air-recirculation mode and, after a few seconds, the front image from the 360° camera (if fitted) is displayed to assist the driver when driving into the car wash. These settings are automatically deactivated when the driver drives out of the car wash.
Exceptional comfort and driving enjoyment
At 1605 and 1606mm (front/rear), the track width is more than 4cm wider than the previous model. The bigger wheel arches and the wider diameter of the wheels, at 17 to 20 inches, result in a higher ground clearance (143mm/+9 mm). The GLA features a sophisticated 4-link rear axle for maximum driving stability, ride quality and longitudinal/lateral dynamics.
The models at a glance: